Work From Home? Focus on High Payoff Activities (Part 2)
You might consider the hot summer temperatures we’re currently experiencing a blessing or a curse. With children out of school, gardens that need tending, and perhaps entertaining more, you have just upped your list of distractions. All of these things and more can make it a challenge for those of us who work from home.
Alright, in my last post, I urged you to:
1. Stop multi-tasking
2. Have a separate space in which to work
3. Structure your time and "cash out" at the end of each day
4. Delegate all you can
5. Stop running out to meet with people face-to-face
As promised, here are five more ways to cut down on stress, stay focused and get more done – especially over the summer.
6. Beware of errands becoming time robbers.
Occasionally, I indulge myself in what I call my "mental health day," and I deliberately spend an entire weekday doing errands. It’s very cathartic and as a result, I am much more relaxed and productive the following day.
However – and I'm generalizing here – as women, we tend to do more of the grocery shopping, picking stuff up at the cleaners, taking kids to appointments, whatever. Try to group your meetings and errands for one day a week. For example, I volunteer on Fridays, but I never know if they're going to need me until I call in that morning. So, I plan all my doctor, dentist, beauty appointments for Friday afternoon (not all at once!), as I'm already in town for my volunteer work. If they don't need me then I can choose to use that unexpected time to get some work done, or get a little shopping and other errands in.
7. Use technology to screen calls and emails.
Every other successful person I know screens phone calls. Tip: get over the guilt!
If I don't take your call immediately does it mean you're not important to me? No – in fact, its just the opposite. If I'm writing and take a call, I am going to lose my focus and I'm not giving you the undivided attention you deserve. If you don't have caller ID, run – don't walk – and order it from your telephone provider right now!
If you are one of those people who picks up the phone every time it rings, you might as well give up on having a successful business from home! The same goes for reading every email as it comes in. Either turn off the signal that tells you that you have mail or only open your emails twice a day.
Please, I beg you, get voice mail with your telephone company rather than an answering machine! I can’t tell you how many times I have been on the phone to someone (for business) and I can hear people leaving messages for them in the background. Tacky, tacky, tacky!
8. Go with YOUR flow.
We've all heard clichés like: the early bird gets the worm, sit in an ergonomically designed chair, make sure you take plenty of breaks, etc. What works well for YOU? If you do your best work balancing your laptop on a lawn chair on your sundeck, then go for it. If you like to get up late and work into the evening, that's what you should do. Once you get going on a project perhaps you like to work in silence, uninterrupted by breaks. They key is finding the balance that works for you, which might be very different from me. The beauty of working from home is that YOU can decide how you want to work.
I do my best work the minute my feet hit the floor in the early morning, but I start going downhill around 3pm and I shut business-related tasks down very early in the evening. Not only have I had to figure out what works best for me, but I also had to get over the guilt I felt knowing others worked late into the night. Working with your mind and body's natural ebb and flow is a huge key to functioning efficiently and managing stress.
9. Banish procrastination by using the 72-hour rule.
How many times have you heard a great idea, written it down and then never did anything about it? If you're like most people, it happens a lot. Next time you're at a seminar or learn something for personal or business development, I challenge you not to write it in your notes, UNLESS you are prepared to at least start implementing it within 72 hours.
The highly successful entrepreneur I learned this from pretends that someone has a gun to his wife and baby's head, if he doesn't implement it. A tad extreme perhaps, but choose something that will have significant meaning to YOU. His attitude is that we all write down so many great ideas, but most of them never get implemented. Another person I know keeps two notebooks when he goes to a learning evening: one for his selective “72-hour Rule” ideas and the other, for everything else.
Until next time, don’t let errands steal your success, balance high tech with high touch, get into your energy groove, and remember this: Implementing just one good idea can make a huge difference to your business and how feel about yourself!
Were these tips helpful or do you have a special technique that works for you? I’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.
Former CEO of the Global Institute of Small Business Marketing, Karen Dodd is co-author of Smart Women Live their Why: How Entrepreneurial Women are Living On Purpose and in Passion! Currently writing her first mystery novel, Karen is passionate about teaching emerging and as-yet-unpublished writers how to create their author’s platform while writing their book. For more info, visit Karendodd.com and to see more of her articles click here.
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